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Tailwater Capital partners with renewable diesel and SAF developer

The company, Ash Creek Renewables, serves North American renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel producers through its feedstock marketing, distribution, pretreatment and logistics operations.

Tailwater Capital LLC, an energy and growth infrastructure private equity firm, has agreed to a partnership with Ash Creek Renewables, a platform dedicated to developing renewable fuel feedstock solutions to meet the demands of the growing renewable fuels market, according to a news release.

Terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

The company serves North American renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel producers through its feedstock marketing, distribution, pretreatment and logistics operations.

Dallas-based Tailwater Capital is an energy and growth infrastructure private equity firm with $4.4bn in commited capital.

Ash Creek is led by chief executive officer John Cusick, who has over 20 years of experience in the low carbon fuels sector. Previously, Cusick was an owner of The Jacobsen, the leading consultancy for the renewable fuels industry. Prior to The Jacobsen, Cusick held senior positions at Renewable Biofuels, Inc., Glencore and Morgan Stanley.

“We are thrilled to partner with Tailwater as we embark on this exciting new chapter,” Cusick said. “Pairing Ash Creek’s deep industry knowledge, capabilities and multi-decade relationships in the renewable fuels industry with Tailwater’s experience in downstream-adjacent infrastructure creates an ideal partnership to execute our strategy.”

“Ash Creek will make an incredible addition to our portfolio and aligns well with our growth infrastructure expertise that has been developed through over a decade of investing in the downstream-adjacent infrastructure, renewable fuels, and logistics sectors,” said Edward Herring, co-founder and managing partner of Tailwater. “We are excited to partner with Ash Creek as they continue to develop meaningful solutions for renewable fuel producers.”

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Direct air capture company to provide credits to Microsoft

The company is developing a project in Wyoming that will capture and store 5 million tons of CO2 per year by 2030.

CarbonCapture Inc, a climate tech company that develops direct air capture (DAC) systems based on modular open systems architecture, has reached an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to provide engineered carbon removal credits, according to a news release.

“We’re thrilled to help Microsoft move toward its commitment to be carbon negative by 2030 and to remove all of its historic CO2 emissions by 2050,” said Adrian Corless, CEO and CTO, CarbonCapture, Inc. “Validation of CarbonCapture’s scalable approach to DAC from a forward-thinking company like Microsoft is an important signal to the entire market, demonstrating the value of high-quality carbon removal credits.”

CarbonCapture designs and manufactures modular DAC systems that can be deployed in large arrays. Currently, the company is developing Project Bison, a large DAC facility in Wyoming, that will follow a phased rollout plan to capture and store five million tons of atmospheric CO2 per year by 2030. This project is expected to be the first commercial-scale project to utilize Class VI injection wells to permanently store CO2 captured from ambient air using DAC technology and the first massively scalable DAC project in the United States.

“Purchasing DAC carbon removal credits is an important part of Microsoft’s pursuit of permanent, durable carbon removal,” said Phillip Goodman, director, Carbon Removal Portfolio, Microsoft. “This agreement with CarbonCapture helps us move toward our carbon negative goal, while also helping to catalyze the growth of the direct air capture industry as a whole.”

In addition to dramatically reducing current emissions, the global community needs to collectively remove 6-10 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050 in order to remain on a path to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. As DAC facilities begin to come online over the next several years, corporations like Microsoft are playing a critical role in helping to scale capacity by committing to advanced purchase agreements.

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Brookfield-backed CCS developer raises CAD 200m

BMO Capital Markets advised Canada Growth Fund on a CAD 200m investment in Entropy, which was coupled with a fixed-price carbon credit purchase agreement of up to one million tonnes per annum.

Canada Growth Fund Inc. has entered into a strategic investment agreement with Entropy Inc., a Calgary-based developer of carbon capture and sequestration projects.

CGF has agreed to a CAD 200m investment in Entropy coupled with a fixed-price carbon credit purchase agreement of up to one million tonnes per annum, according to a news release.

Once fully drawn, the investment could result in CGF owning approximately 20% of Entropy. Brookfield will continue to invest the balance of its existing CAD 300m hybrid security into the business, by which point it would be the largest shareholder and control Entropy.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and BMO Capital Markets acted as advisors to Canada Growth Fund Inc.

Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP and TD Securities Inc. acted as advisors to Entropy Inc.

According to the release, the strategic growth partnership represents an important new investment in Canadian carbon markets. The features of the CCO—notably its large scale and its long-term fixed-price—represent a global first in compliance markets. This financeable structure helps to de-risk and accelerate private CCS investment by establishing carbon price certainty for Canadian projects.

One pillar of CGF’s mandate is to invest in projects and technologies, including CCS, that hold significant potential to reduce emissions across the Canadian economy. A second pillar is to scale promising Canadian clean technology champions that can help create value for Canadians.

In March 2022, Entropy announced a strategic CAD 300 million investment agreement with Brookfield, via the Brookfield Global Transition Fund, to scale up the deployment of Entropy’s CCS technology globally. Today’s announcement builds on this strong foundation and provides greater revenue certainty to accelerate Entropy’s major investments in Canada.

Transaction Highlights

  • Definitive agreements between Entropy and CGF to accelerate the decarbonization of hard-to-abate industries in Canada;
  • CGF to invest CAD 200m in Entropy for the development of Canadian CCS projects and for corporate purposes which, once fully drawn, could result in CGF owning approximately 20% of Entropy;
  • Brookfield will continue to invest the balance of its existing CAD 300 million hybrid security into the business, by which point it would be the largest shareholder and control Entropy;
  • CGF to provide the first ever large-scale, long-term, fixed-price CCO in a compliance carbon market, committing to purchase up to one million tpa of carbon credits for 15 years;
  • The initial allocation of CCO commitment will allow Entropy to proceed with its Glacier Phase 2 project, targeting the sale of up to 185,000 tpa of Alberta TIER carbon credits at an initial price of $86.50 per tonne for a term of 15 years;
  • The balance of the remaining CCO will be available for Entropy to underwrite additional third-party projects on similar terms in Canada;
  • Post-investment, Entropy will have approximately CAD 460 million of capital available which, together with investment tax credits, carbon capture incentives and project financing, establishes a path to execute over CAD 1 billion of CCS projects and abate more than 1 million metric tonnes per annum (“MMTPA”) of emissions, with a focus on the Canadian market.

Deal Structure Overview 

CGF’s investment in Entropy is via a hybrid security similar to the prior investment from Brookfield (please see Entropy news release dated March 28, 2022), though at a valuation that reflects the numerous advancements of the business in the last two years. The flexible structure ensures access to capital for Entropy and retains flexible liquidity options for all major investors including Brookfield, CGF and Advantage (the Company’s controlling shareholder). Funding draws from Brookfield and CGF for Canadian projects and corporate purposes will proceed in tandem.

Coupled with the CGF investment, Entropy and CGF have entered into a CCO agreement whereby CGF has committed to purchase up to 9 million tonnes (up to 600,000 tpa over a 15-year term) of TIER or equivalent carbon credits from Entropy projects. The initial project to benefit from the CCO is intended to be Advantage Glacier Phase 2, drawing up to 185,000 tpa at an initial price of $86.50 per tonne, for a total of approximately 2.8 million tonnes over the 15-year term. With this CCO agreement in place, CGF has absorbed the carbon pricing risk for the project. Entropy is therefore pleased to announce provisional final investment decision of Glacier Phase 2.

Beyond Glacier Phase 2, CGF and Entropy intend to enter into separate CCO agreements for other Canadian projects, on terms that are expected to provide similar investment returns. Upon successful deployment of the initial 600,000 tpa of CCO, CGF may make available a further 400,000 tpa of CCOs for additional Entropy Canadian CCS projects.

CGF will nominate one member to the Entropy Board of Directors and is pleased to participate in the growth and evolution of this Canadian clean technology leader. Advantage and Brookfield will retain their existing Entropy board representation.

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Bloom providing fuel cells to Italian EPC firm

Bloom Energy has partnered with Italian EPC provider Cefla for multiple megawatts of Bloom’s solid oxide fuel cells.

Bloom Energy has partnered with Italian EPC provider Cefla for multiple megawatts of Bloom’s solid oxide fuel cells to be deployed through 2025, according to a press release.

The partnership will expand Bloom’s footprint in Italy and help Italian companies transition from combustion-based energy to a proprietary fuel-cell based Energy Server.

This represents Bloom Energy’s second deal with a leading Italian company. Earlier this year Bloom announced the installation of its Energy Servers as part of Ferrari’s decarbonization project.

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Renewable hydrogen developer to launch series A round next month

A Colorado-based renewable hydrogen developer has hired an advisor and will launch a series A funding round next month.

NovoHydrogen, the Colorado-based renewable hydrogen developer, will launch a series A capital raise in the middle of March to take on a new investor for project development and hiring, CEO Matt McMonagle said in an interview.

The company has hired GreenFront Energy Partners to run the process, McMonagle said.

NovoHydrogen builds its projects onsite with customers, as close to end use as possible, he said. The company serves transportation (heavy road transport, shipping and aviation), industrial (cement, glass, metal, steel, food, etc.) and power (peaking power and diesel generator replacement). Most of Novo’s customers are users of grey hydrogen looking to decarbonize. In the case of cement, they are looking to replace diesel for their trucks and coal and natural gas for their kilns.

“We first look to see if we can put our projects on our customer sites and make it there,” McMonagle said. “If we can’t do that, we’ll do offsite, but we still try to be as close to customers as possible to minimize that midstream component or distribution component.”

About 30 projects are in development in the US, ranging from a few megawatts to hundreds of megawatts, McMonagle said. NovoHydrogen’s most active markets are the West coast, Northeast, Appalachia, Texas and the Rocky Mountains, though the company is not geographically constrained.

The company aims to begin construction on its first projects by the end of this year, possibly early next year, McMonagle said. The first project could reach COD in 2024.

NovoHydrogen recently announced that it has closed its seed funding round and appointed four executives to its board of directors. Each of those executives represent an investor that participated in the seed round, McMonagle said.

The new board appointees are: Jeremy Avenier, an active investor at Ohmium International; Peyton Boswell, managing partner at Woodfield Renewable Partners; Bruno Franco, partner at Pacífico Energia and managing partner at PWR Capital; and Joseph Malchow, a managing partner at Hanover (a Silicon Valley VC), board member and investor in Enphase and board member and investor in Archaea.

More money

“We will certainly need more money as our projects mature,” McMonagle said. “I do not have the hundreds of millions of dollars on my balance sheet to build these projects.”

An ideal investor will bring accretive capabilities in hydrogen, in a field like value chain equipment or delivery, to the table, McMonagle said.

NovoHydrogen plans to be a long-term owner-operator of its projects, McMonagle said. That is an important point for customers: that the company is not going to sell the project and not care how the next owner operates.

“We want to earn future business from these customers,” McMonagle said, adding that most of them are transitioning piecemeal.

NovoHydrogen and TigerGenCo in November said they would advance development of green hydrogen capacity to reduce reliance on natural gas at the Bayonne Energy Center located in New Jersey. NovoHydrogen will develop and operate the hydrogen production facility to reduce Bayonne’s carbon emissions.

TigerGen owns the power plant and is the offtaker in that project. Ohmium International is providing the PEM electrolyzers in that project. McMonagle said the company may use other electrolyzer providers for future projects.

The company is also a partner in the Aliance for Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES) for the California DOE Hydrogen Hub submission.

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Exclusive: Zero-emission locomotive start-up in Series B capital raise

A locomotive start-up focused on the US market for zero-emission freight trains is undergoing a Series B capital raise, with sights on a much larger Series C raise next year.

OptiFuel Systems, a provider of zero-emission line haul locomotives and generation solutions, is conducting a $30m Series B capital raise.

The South Carolina-based firm is seeking to finalize the Series B by the end of this year, and plans to use proceeds to advance production of its zero-emission technologies for the rail industry, which represents a massive decarbonization opportunity, CEO Scott Myers said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the firm will seek to tap the market for around $150m for a Series C next year, Myers added. The company is not working with a financial adviser. 

While the Series B will focus on bringing to production some of OptiFuel’s smaller rail offerings, such as the switcher locomotives, the Series C will be mostly dedicated to progressing testing, manufacturing, and commercialization of its larger line haul locomotive.

The company is also considering making its own investments into digesters for RNG facilities, from which it would source the gas to run its RNG-fueled locomotives. As part of its offering, OptiFuel also provides refueling infrastructure, and envisions this aspect of its business to be just as profitable as selling trains.

“We anticipate that we would be the offtaker” of RNG, “and quite potentially, the producer,” Cynthia Heinz, an OptiFuel board member, said in the interview.

A systems integrator, OptiFuel offers modular locomotives for the freight industry that can run on zero-emission technology such as renewable natural gas, batteries, and hydrogen. The company recently announced that it will begin testing of its RNG line haul locomotive, which is a 1-million-mile test program that will take two years and require 10 RNG line haul locomotives.

Image: OptiFuel

The company’s target market is the 38,000 operating freight trains in the U.S., 25,000 of which are line haul locomotives run by operators like BASF, Union Pacific, and CSX. Fleet owners will be required to phase out diesel-powered trains starting next decade following passage of in-use locomotive requirements in California, which includes financial penalties for pollution and eventual restrictions on polluting locomotives. Other states are evaluating similar measures.

“The question is not will the railroads change over: they have to,” Myers said. “The question is, how fast?”

Following completion of testing, OptiFuel aims to begin full production of the line haul locomotive – which has a price tag of $5.5m per unit – in 2028, and is aiming to produce 2,000 per year as a starting point. The smaller switcher units are priced between $1.5m and $2.5m depending on horsepower.

OptiFuel has held discussions with Cummins, one of its equipment providers, to source at least 2,000 engines per year from Cummins to support its production goal. 

“That’s a $10bn-a-year market for us,” Myers added.

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Exclusive: Green hydrogen developer planning capital raises for distributed portfolio

A developer of US green hydrogen projects will need to access the project equity, debt and tax equity markets in the near term for a pipeline of distributed assets nationwide.

NovoHydrogen, the Colorado-based renewable hydrogen developer, will be in the market for project financing for a portfolio of distributed green hydrogen projects in 2024, CEO Matt McMonagle said.

The company, which recently agreed to a $20m capital raise with Modern Energy, is aiming to attract additional private equity and infrastructure investors for the projects it is developing, the executive said.

“The opportunity is really there for attractive risk-adjusted returns at the project level based on how we’re structuring these projects with long-term contracted revenue,” he said.

The company plans to bring its first projects online in late 2024 or 2025.

“We don’t have the project financing set at the point that we can announce, but that’s something myself and my team have done in our careers,” McMonagle said, adding that he’s focused on bankability since founding the company. “We wanted to be as easy for the lenders to underwrite as possible.”

No financial advisors have been attached to the project financings, McMonagle said. A recently announced Series A, first reported by ReSource in February, gave the company exposure to investors that want to participate in project financings, he said.

“We’ll really be ramping that process up, likely after the new year,” McMonagle added, declining to say how much the company would need to raise in 2024.

NovoHydrogen doesn’t have a timeline on a Series B, he said.

Distributed pipeline

The company looks to do onsite projects adjacent to consumption, McMonagle said. The first projects that will go online will be 10 MW and smaller.

“Typically the permitting is straightforward in that we’re adding equipment to an already impacted industrial site,” McMonagle said. He declined to elaborate on where these projects are located or what customers they will serve.

The company also has off-site, or near-site projects, where production is decoupled from consumption. But the company still calls those distributed because they are being developed with a targeted customer in mind.

“We want to be as close as possible to that customer,” he said. Those off-site projects typically are larger and will begin coming online in 2026 and 2027.  

In Texas NovoHydrogen has two large-scale green hydrogen developments in production, co-located with greenfield renewables projects, McMonagle said. Partners, including EPC, are in place for those efforts. The company also has projects in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and along the west coast.

“Where can we add the most value and have the biggest competitive advantage?” McMonagle said of the company’s geographic strategy. “We have very specific go-to-markets in each of those regions which we feel play to our strengths.”

NovoHydrogen is a member of the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub and is involved with the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2), though not in line to receive DOE funding through that hub.

Post-IRA, green hydrogen projects will look much like renewables deals from the equity, tax equity and debt perspectives, he said.

“We’re structuring and setting up our projects to take advantage of that existing infrastructure and knowledge base of how to finance deals,” he said. New options on transferability will enable additional financing options as well.

No flipping

NovoHydrogen does not plan to flip projects before COD, McMonagle said.

“We are planning to deploy hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in capex for these projects, and we’ll certainly need to partner with folks to deploy that capital,” McMonagle said. “But we will remain in deals with our customers because that relationship is really the fundamental value that we bring in our business.”

Hydrogen projects are different from renewables in that the customers need greater assurances of resiliency, security of supply and performance, than in a space like solar, he said.

Flipping projects before COD would be inconsistent with the trust required to attract offtakers.

“We don’t believe doing a flip reflects that level of importance and support and, frankly, incentive, behavioral incentive, that we have to show to our customers,” he said.

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